Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are forecasting a run of some 4.0 million sockeye salmon to Upper Cook Inlet in 2017, with a commercial harvest of 1.7 million fish.
That forecasted harvest is 1.2 million fish less than the 20-year average harvest.
For 2016, the red salmon harvest by all user groups in Upper Cook Inlet totaled 3.3 million fish, which was 2.0 million less than the preseason forecast of 5.3 million fish, biologists said.
The run forecast for the Kenai River is approximately 2.2 million, which is 1.4 million less than the 20-year average run of 3.6 million fish.
The Kasilof River sockeye salmon run forecast is 825,000, which is 16 percent less than the 20-year average of 987,000; the Susitna River forecast is 366,000, which is 5 percent less than the 10-year average of 387,000 fish, and the Fish Creek forecast is 75,000, which is 11 percent less than the 20-year average of 84,000 reds. The 2017 forecast for other salmon species in Upper Cook Inlet includes commercial harvests of 98,000 pink, 184,000 chum, 167,000 silver and 6,300 king salmon.
While all five species of Pacific salmon are present in Upper Cook Inlet, sockeyes are the most valuable, accounting for nearly 93 percent of the total value over the past 20 years.
Sockeye prices varied during the season, but based on an estimated average price of $1.50 per pound, the total exvessel value of the 2016 Upper Cook Inlet sockeye harvest was about $21 million, which was 93 percent of the total ex-vessel value of Upper Cook Inlet salmon in 2016.
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